book launch

So you’re over the moon, polishing off the first draft of your book moreover eager to self-publish and pull off your book launch. You can just see the hundreds of copies in the first batch of sales, the thousands of dollars in passive revenue, and dozens of offers for interviews, book readings, and book signings.

But how do you go about self-publishing and marketing it? What are the first steps? How do you successfully pull off a book launch?

A Common Mistake Indie Authors Make

Often, before or after they’ve penned their new work, indie authors make the common mistake of not promoting their book or they wait until the last minute to do so.

If they promote or market their book, they do not begin early enough. Why is this? Firstly, it may be that most indie authors forget that they are just that — indie or independent authors.

After they’ve completed and submitted their work, these writers think in the mode of authors with traditional book publishers, harking back to an era in which these publishing houses —not the author—made most of the profits of their books and took on the task of marketing and promoting books inhouse.

It appears to escape them that they are indie authors and that, thus, they must promote and market their books themselves.

Secondly, otherwise, it could be that these indie authors want to forget they are independent writers, are somewhat if not fully aware of the amount of time, effort, and work needed to effectively promote their work, are terrified or overwhelmed by it all, and dread it as a result. So they avoid doing it.

Thirdly, however, it most certainly is because most authors don’t know how to market or promote their books and may feel they lack the marketing and sales skills, background, and training so they really don’t know where to start or when.

In some cases, they may not even have a marketing plan for their book or have vague goals for achieving promotional and sales success for their work.

As indie authors, especially new ones, you need to have a marketing plan in place to launch your work as books can’t sell themselves. Part of this means conducting research before making any publishing, vendor, or retail decisions.

Most importantly, you must be willing to put in the time and work months before the launch of your book—in fact since its inception. After all, much of your money will go towards this effort.

You need an early start because you ought to think about and remember the work schedules of the key players who will examine your finished product — your new book. Be considerate; those key players surely have prior commitments and are busy.

In the case of print, broadcast, and online media, book reviewers need a great deal of lead time to prepare to read, research, and review your work as they may be backlogged with the works of other authors. As a consequence, your book tour must be arranged months in advance of the main event.

In particular, your local library or bookstore is expected to set up your new author’s book readings and signings as much as six months prior to your awaited appearance.

As an independent author, you ought to put yourself in the shoes of a customer. Ask yourself what would interest you enough to want to leaf through a book online and read a few sentences.

If you think through the initial steps of your marketing plan well enough, you can succeed in having a customer make it as far as the table of contents of your book, read the first two pages, and elect to take the book to the checkout lane of a bookstore.

Promote Your Book from the Start

As an indie author, you should never wait until the last minute to promote your newly-created work.

In fact, many writers have been counseled or have begun to promote their book at least three months in advance of their book launch, utilizing their professionally designed author websites, their pages on Facebook, Linkedln, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media online — sometimes not even having fully written or published it.

Additionally, the most successful among them may receive a seven-figure digital publishing deal and be interviewed on the web’s top podcasts for young authors, featured on such well-known sites as the Huffington Post.

They may also build a personal email list of at least 4,000 followers.

To a limited extent, you may take this route as well.

If you self-publish, as most authors likely are with their new work, you will need to do most of the book promotion.

Inevitably, for you, this means public speaking online via podcast, YouTube, Zoom, or Google Meet or on a site-based webinar or offline in bookstores, churches, schools, colleges, libraries, or agency offices.

In the case of freelance writers or businesses, part of your goal is to find customers for your products or services and your book may be the tool you use to attract such followers. Prepare to speak publicly about your literary creation.

You can start small and locally. Begin by finding the names of family members, friends, and persons who arrange programs for social, civic, or religious groups.

Send them a one-page press release about your new book and notify them that you are available as a public speaker for one of their weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annual meetings.

After you’ve landed a speaking engagement, you may want to avoid making a hard sell during your presentations.

Why is that? In the case of a local library, bookstore, or civic organization event where you may have to make a donation or devote a portion of your future sales to them or your potential readers may not be able to afford your book right away, you may want to warm your audience up to you as an author and the subject matter you have written about first.

You want to give them nonmonetary reasons to invest time and attention in you and ultimately buy your book.

You may need to deliver a consistent and coherent message about your book by focusing on its topic and, in part, on some of the writing processes you underwent to bring it about. Making an aggressive stand for the audience to buy your work distracts or takes away from that effort.

During the presentation, you should be sure to recount the most salient points you’ve outlined about your book for each event.

In your speeches or public appearances, be sure to take on the role of an expert or an authority figure on the subject matter or theme of your book. After all, you’ve produced a work on the topic and if you are a freelance writer, you may have written profusely on it for much of your career.

As you build your self-promotion campaign, you ought to remember to send press releases to online and offline community newspapers and use those samples to lobby for coverage in bigger publications.

Additionally, take advantage of news events related to the subject your book covers. Contact a  journalist covering these stories and provide background to your book.

If he or she agrees to write about your book, ask to be quoted by name and save the clippings for your publisher and other personnel involved in the promotion and marketing of your book.

The Amount of Competition Indie Authors Face

As an independent author, you are not alone but are up against the formidable competition.

With the age of the Internet and social media, the publishing industry has changed substantially since the start of the millennium.

The top five publishers  — Penguin, Random House, Hachette Livre, HarperCollins, Simon and Schuster, and Macmillan — are responsible for only 16 percent of the bestselling e-books now. Less than half of the income of authors today has gone to traditionally-published ones.

Independent authors generate at least 70 percent if not more of their profits from their books as opposed to 10 to 20 percent from the traditional publishers.

However, this is not the common reality on the ground for most writers; indie authors do not become literary successes or giants overnight. It takes time, hard work, and some measure of good fortune.

Meanwhile, more often than not, the average new writer sells less than 100 copies of his or her book.

The question for you to ask is: what are one percent of the most successful indie authors doing differently from the average writer to sell and promote their book? Only when you find the answer can you beat the odds of selling your book well.

The Challenges Indie Authors Face in Gaining Exposure

Self-publishing provides you with ample opportunities to produce quality material if you are willing to invest the requisite time, money, and effort.

However, like most indie authors, you face a variety of odds in creating and showcasing their work. Publishing is a financially risky undertaking and comparatively few authors rake in great profits from their books.

As an independent author, you are at a critical disadvantage if you lack the following traits needed to self-publish and self-promote:

  • an entrepreneurial or business mindset;
  • a sound financial budget;
  • emotional stamina against the fact that not everyone will accept your work, and;
  • and the marketing and sales skills to promote yourself and your written work.

About 750.89 million printed books were sold in the year 2020, representing a growth of 8.2 percent, the highest yearly increase since 2010, a report from Statista found in January 2021.

In December 2020, the Association of American Publishers reported that audiobook revenue rose by 17 percent since 2019, and e-book sales, which was on the wane for many years, increased by 16 percent.

Experts attribute the jump in book sales of every category in 2020 to the pandemic. National and state economic shutdowns resulted in whole households turning to read, TV, radio, and the Internet as sources of entertainment, instruction, and a means of passing the time spent at home.

As a result, nationally, about 690 million print books were sold in 2019 in both the fiction and nonfiction categories, according to BookScan, which tracks most bookstores, online and other retail sales of books, including

Between 600,000 and more than one million books are published every year throughout the country, according to a report in Forbes magazine in 2013. The report adds that roughly half of such books are self-published and they sell less than 250 copies each.

Among the major traditional publishing houses as of autumn 2019, Penguin Random House published 70,000 digital books and 15,000 print books per year on average, Harper Collins, 10,000, Simon & Schuster, 2,000, and Hachette Book Group, 1,800.

A 2014 report from Digital Book World and Writer’s Author Surveys of 9,000 respondents revealed that, of those who submitted a manuscript to a publisher, 23 percent succeeded in becoming traditionally published.

About 70 percent of books are sold on with 310 million buyers making purchases yearly for a total of $178 billion in sales in 2020, $30 billion of which came from print and broadcast media.

Against this publishing prospect backdrop, it pays for you to understand fully how self-publishing, most especially the aspects of book promotion and marketing, works and how to locate the best publishers or service, providers.

Placing and maintaining yourself on such a long-term learning curve and making important discoveries along the way will spare you thousands of dollars in publishing expenses and much handwringing and grief.

As an independent author, you will need a publisher and service providers to launch and sell your book, but you don’t have to be technologically savvy and spend a great deal of money on marketing and promotion.

While you may not have the background to oversee every facet of your launch, you should invest in a mentor to guide you through the process of self-publishing and marketing your book.

You will also find that you need three essential ingredients for a successful book launch: an exceptional cover, a launch team, and positive reviews on sites like Amazon and Goodreads.

First, you must design a cover for your book that is appropriate for your subject matter and grabs the attention of a potential customer at the same time.

Secondly, you should build a launch team to promote and market your book.

Thirdly and finally, you must generate glowing reviews of your new work, online and offline.

The launch team is composed of a small group of people  — mostly family members, friends, and professional colleagues you know — who support your book.

The team agrees to read your book, leave a review on the first day of your book launch campaign, share your book with still more friends, and support the launch in every way possible.

For their efforts, members of your launch team will obtain a free copy of the book, printed acknowledgment in it, and the personal rewards of being a part of something meaningful and larger than themselves.

Before or after you’ve published your book, you may be somewhat, if not fully, aware that the timetable for pre-launch and launch day activities to promote your book typically runs as follows:

As an indie author, you are required to produce a marketing plan before you even write your book if your launch day is to be a success.

At that time, you are also expected to perform market research on your potential buyers, what they want or need, and their purchasing influences.

Before the launch, you must begin filling your author website or platform with regular blogs and postings, especially if you will be a nonfiction author, and, almost needless to say, have your social media profiles established.

If you are a fiction author, you are to participate in forums, maintain a book review blog, and get acquainted with your potential fans in your genre before your work comes out.

About six to nine months before your launch day, you ought to build a list of influencers or reviewers, a second list for blogs, websites, and other media sites you want to appear in, a third one for issuing your press release, and the fourth one for a special event, holidays and book fairs.

Three to six months prior to the big day, you can create a marketing calendar to stay on top of personal or virtual appearances, guests posts, and interview dates, contact the media outlets and reviewers with advanced copies of your book, make guest posts to sites you’ve selected, and have a video trailer made for you.

During the previous month to three months to your launch day, you may add a sales page for your book to your website or blog and create your media kit.

Your media kit will consist of author questions and answers, also known as Q & A, your best profile photo, and your launch press release.

You will also write social media updates with tweets or unique articles not necessarily written by you that are related to your books and your book trailer.

On launch day, you must ensure your book information is live and accurate on your distribution sites such as Amazon or Goodreads and announce your book release on your blog or author website and social media networks using your launch day press release.

During the big day, you should also add “buy now” links to your site and send out an email newsletter to your mailing list with a connection to buy a book. You may even hold a book release party or event with your launch team.

Need Help with Your Book Launch?

As an independent new author, it is paramount that you not only take the initiative to write, edit,  and, proof your own book but also to summon all of your skills and background to market and promote it as well.

The very notion that your publisher and service providers will promote and market your work entirely for you is a myth first lodged in the heyday of traditional publishing.

As only you know the subject matter well and have researched, outlined, written, and edited your book, you are in the best position to market and sell it. No one else is as fully invested in your book’s theme or topic and its purpose as you are. understands this and stands ready to assist you in carrying out your marketing plan and achieving your promotional goals.

Visit our marketing services page to get the guidance and support you need today.